This document was prepared for the CDMP by the Cooperative Housing Foundation [http://www.chfhq.org]
II. Executive Summary
III. Program Description
IV. Management Structures
A. Roles of Collaborating Institutions
B. Project Implementation
C. Household Sign-up and Retrofit
D. Role of Estimator
V. Loan Program
B. Loan Conditions
C. Program Marketing
D. Loan Application Process
E. Construction Monitoring
F. Loan Collection Process
A. Community Level
B. National Level
VII. Monitoring and Evaluation
VIII. Training Builders
In 1994, the Organization of American States Department of Regional Development and Environment contracted the Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) to assist in the implementation of two housing retrofit programs refered to as Safer Construction Programs in St. Lucia and in Dominica. The Safer Construction Program, one of six program areas in the Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP), is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented throughout the Caribbean by the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Safer Construction Program was designed and implemented to promote the concept of pre-disaster mitigation in the homes of low-income families. In the Caribbean, institutional responses to hurricanes (particularly housing-related responses) have traditionally addressed damages reactively: after roofs have been lifted off, walls toppled, and foundations destroyed. Retrofitting for hurricane resistance involves the upgrading of existing structures to reduce the vulnerability of key components before damage can occur. With technical and managerial assistance from CHF and under the OASs supervision, local NGOs design and implement outreach and publicity campaigns, conduct hurricane resistance construction and retrofit training courses and set up loan funds to assist low-income earning families in strengthening their existing homes.
The Safer Construction Project was implemented initially in St. Lucia and in Dominica. In St. Lucia, CARITAS (the lead implementing agency), the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) and the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) were selected by the OAS and CHF to manage the various components of the Program. In Dominica, the Program was implemented by the National Development Foundation of Dominica (NDFD) with technical assistance from the Safe Shelter Initiative.
The timing for the full launch of the pilot activities of the Safer Construction Program coincided with the busiest hurricane season in the Caribbean since 1933. Indeed, the destruction brought by hurricanes Luis and Marilyn in Dominica between the period of August 27 to September 18, 1995 served as an ominous reminder of the urgent need for housing mitigation activities in the region.
The high winds, storm surge and flooding caused damage or loss to 876 housing units. Most of the properties destroyed or damaged were small wooden structures belonging to low-income families. These structures, for the most part, did not meet local building codes requirements and nearly all sustained damage to roof elements. A total of 124 units were estimated as having been destroyed and the total loss to the housing sector is estimated at $4.265 mn. [Summary of the Impact of Hurricane Luis on CDERA Participating States: Response Actions, Recovery and Rehabilitation Needs. Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA); Barbados, 1995.]
In dramatic contrast to what was happening throughout the island, all houses retrofitted through the Safer Construction Program in the Carib Reserve of Dominica successfully withstood the winds wielded by the successive hurricanesin fact, one house retrofitted with funds from the Program served as a community shelter in the Carib Reserve during the passage of Hurricane Luis.
In 1997, the Safer Housing Program was renamed the Hurricane Resistant Home Improvement Program to reflect the programs emphasis on incorporating hurricane resistance during general home improvements as well as specific hurricane resistant retrofitting.
The following technical portions of this Toolkit provide descriptions and guidelines necessary for the implementation of a successful home improvement and hurricane resistant retrofit program. Special thanks go to all our partners in USAID, the OAS and the following Caribbean organizations for their assistance in piloting this program and the provision of the materials included in this manual;
Special thanks are also extended to Barclays Bank of St. Lucia for their pioneer private sector contribution to the program.
This Tool Kit is divided into the following key sections for the convenient use of any person or organization desiring to implement a program of constructing, improving or retrofitting homes to be hurricane resistant in the Caribbean setting:
The techniques and concepts included in this manual are the result of several years of pilot programs and earlier research efforts conducted in Jamaica and elsewhere. CHF invites any readers with suggested improvements to forward them to our offices in Silver Spring, Maryland for inclusion in future print and electronic verisons of the Tool Kit.
Important Note: While there is a wide range of construction, land arrangement, drainage and wind break techniques that can be used to protect homes in hurricane prone conditions, the techniques included in this manual were selected for there importance, modest cost and availability to every family.
It is critical that people throughout the Caribbean be made aware their homes no longer need be vulnerable to routine hurricanes. As demonstrated in this Tool Kit the affordable techniques and technology exist which can make their homes resistant to the Category I, II & III hurricanes that strike most Caribbean countries on the average of every to twenty years. While there are very little low cost technologies that could strenghten large numbers of homes against the devasting yet rarer Category IV and V hurricanes, with their winds in excess of 150 mph, we do have the capacity to drasticly limit the damage caused by all other storms. These techniques should become a standard part of all new construction and remodeling, upgrading and/or rehabilitation of homes throughout the Caribbean.
In each country where it was implemented the CDMP Hurricane Resistant Home Improvement Program included the following activities:
The home improvement and retrofitting process focuses primarily on protecting the roof structure on the house because in a hurricane, the roof is the most vulnerable and plays a critical role in holding together the rest of the structure. The technology used is simple and incorporates time-tested construction techniques:
The installation of hurricane straps is the most essential component of strengthening a house to resist hurricane forces. The strap consists of a short piece of flat metal that can be used to secure roof joists to the top of wooden or cement walls. The strap, which can be purchased inexpensively in most hardware stores in the region, is key to ensuring that the roof structure remains intact when hurricane-force winds are blowing.
Another improvement is the use of long drive screws or wide-headed nails (at least two inches in length) to affix the corrugated metal commonly used for roofing. Strong screws or nails hold the roof in place, unlike common nails which often rip through roofing sheets during hurricanes.
Other improvements that help prevent roof-related damages include:
While these techniques are relatively inexpensive, many lower income families will require financing to complete their home improvements. To meet this need, CHF made a revolving loan fund available to families earning less than the median income for the country and living in sub-standard homes which are at significant risk with the coming of each hurricane season. Credit was made available to individuals and families for general home improvements which include hurricane resistance techniques and/or for hurricane resistance retrofitting specifically. Under the CDMP, the amount of the loan to beneficiaries has not exceeded EC$6,000, and the targeted average loan is currently EC$3,000. As a rule, monthly loan payments must not exceed 25% of households monthly income.
Residents in targeted project areas who satisfy the criteria established by the implementing agency obtain low interest loans to undertake the necessary retrofit activities either through contracted services or through self-help provided the workers are properly training. A more detailed description of the loan program used with CDMP is included in Chapter V.
A training component is necessary to instruct local builders in the hurricane resistance home construction and retrofitting techniques. A qualified training agency or individual can be selected to conduct these sessions. The lead trainer should be a qualified builder, architect, engineer or teacher with expertise in the specific area. The instruction provided must include practical sessions which enable trainees to actually practice the various techniques utilized during the retrofitting process. Past CDMP training courses have typically included the retrofitting of an existing structure to provide a demonstration model and give the trainees tangible, hands-on experience.
The goal of this training is to prepare a maximum number of artisans/crafts persons to analyze the hurricane resistant weaknesses of an existing home, draw a working plan to include improvements and retrofitting that will meet minimum standards of hurricane resistance, prepare a cost estimate and perform standard retrofitting work. Estimators and project technical officers should participate in the training to insure that all segments of the program are using the same information, standards and techniques.
To the extent possible, the training program should also provide community residents with a demonstration "model home" and should instill a basic understanding of safer construction techniques. Finally and in order to ensure the dissemination of proper hurricane resistant construction and retrofitting techniques, the Program should seek to institutionalize such training into existing construction curricula at technical schools, community colleges and construction seminars.
Each organization implementing a Hurricane Resistant Home Improvement Program will have a unique management structure. For illustrative purposes the following chapter provides a description of the organizational structure of the participants in the CMDP. Organizations and their partners can borrow this example to create their own management structure
USAID/OFDA's Caribbean Regional Disaster Advisor and the OAS have provided the overall supervision for the Program. The Cooperative Housing Foundation, under contract from the OAS provides managerial and technical support. In St. Lucia, CHF works in collaboration with CARITAS, NRDF and SALCC. In Dominica, the local partners are the National Development Foundation of Dominica (NDFD) and the Safe Shelter Initiative (SSI). In 1997 the National Development Foundation of Antigua & Barbuda is expected to become an LIA for that country.
In each participating country, the OAS and CHF sought to identify agencies with experience in at least one of the following substantive areas:
While it is unlikely that any one agency will possess all of the necessary skills, it is critical that the lead implementing agency (LIA) have strong management expertise, as the LIA will coordinate the activities of the other implementing agencies. The LIA will most likely enter into a contractual arrangement with the support agencies to undertake specific tasks such as publicity, training, and supervision of the construction site.
In undertaking the implementation of the Program the LIA is also advised to solicit the active participation of other supporting institutions/sectors. These include:
The overall management structure of the housing component of the CDMP included:
The OAS was selected by USAID to implement the Program on the basis of the OASs long established presence in the Caribbean and of its track record in administering development assistance and disaster-related programs. The OASs Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment (formerly Department of Regional Development and Environment) was responsible for providing management oversight for all aspects of Program implementation.
Under contract with the OAS, CHF provided technical assistance to the Lead Implementing Agencies and monitors the project, through both specific visits and regular correspondence. All project documentation, including milestone reports and credit reports are consolidated by the LIAs and submitted to CHF. Payments to the LIAs and to any other implementing agencies are made by the OAS after CHF has had the opportunity to review the required documentation and has signified its concurrence to the OAS. Under separate agreement with the LIAs, CHF may made direct financial concessionary loans to each of the agencys to provide seed capital for their revolving loan funds.
- Design and conduct national awareness and public education campaigns
- Design and conduct surveys of potential participant communities
- Conduct credit studies on the feasibility of loan programs for housing retrofit purposes
- Conduct technical studies
- Arrange training programs
- Develop and log loan approval procedures and criteria
- Administer reflows from the projects revolving loan fund
- Contract and supervise a building estimator/inspector to estimate retrofitting costs and to verify work implementation
- Provide transportation and logistical support
- Promote and network with national and international donors to increase the value of the revolving loan fund
- Prepare periodic progress reports and consolidate information from subcontractors and other implementing parties
- Prepare quarterly credit reports for submission to CHF.
A typical Hurricane Resistant Home Improvement project is implemented in three phases: (1) project design studies and start-up; (2) community outreach; and (3) household sign-up and construction.
1. Project Design Studies and Start-up
2. Community Outreach
3. Household Sign-up and Construction
Under the Hurricane Resistant Home Improvement Program the construction/retrofit process is implemented in 13 different phases. A breakdown of these phases is provided as follows:
Public education and outreach programs have been designed to inform low-income earning households. Outreach efforts should be focused and targeted toward households where the demand exists for small retrofit or home improvement loans.
During the initial phase of the project, the Estimator may work under the supervision of the LIA. In the long run, the services of the Estimator should be included in the retrofit costs.
This is a crucial phase of the loan making process. The Estimator is, in effect, preparing a financial and technical work plan that must be respected by the contractor.
LIAs approval should be contingent on the households ability to repay the loan and on whether the work to be performed fits within the concept of hurricane resistance retrofitting.
The lead implementing agency directly supervises the work of the Estimator during the initial phase of the Program. The Estimator is specifically responsible for making structural cost estimates, preparing a list of needed construction materials and giving practical instructions to the builder/contractor. All loans that are approved by the LIA must be "pre-costed" by the project Estimator using the Minimum Standards Checklist. The Estimator is also responsible for final inspection of the retrofitting work and for authorizing final payment to the contractor.
In order to move to a more operationally sustainable program all costs incurred during the construction/retrofitting process (such as the cost of the Estimator) should be incorporated into the pricing of the loan products. While the LIA or a Funding Agency may subsidize the work of the Estimator during the early phase of the project, it is recommended that, in the future, the cost of purchasing the services of an Estimator be factored into the interest and fees associated with each loan product.
The work involved in strengthening key components of houses to withstand hurricane-force winds (retrofitting) as well as the incorporation of such strengthening techniques into general home improvements should conform to the minimum standards set forth by the country where the Program is implemented. These standards include national and local building codes and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) guidelines. As an overarching goal, houses must achieve resistance to hurricanes by incorporating both robustness and consistency at key connection points. Simply increasing the size of the structural members of the house will still fail in strong hurricanes unless attention is paid to the key connecting points throughout the house. A proper balance of overall robustness and improved connections will also keep the clients costs to a minimum.
For each house to be retrofitted, competent personnel (Estimator, Project Officer, and Contractor) must perform an initial inspection. This inspection should focus on the houses "load path" (particularly any potential weakness of structure at key connections) and on the level of degradation of existing structural members. "External" factors (prevailing winds, soil conditions, site location, trees) should also be taken into account. These as well as other factors are included in an easy to use Minimum Standards Checklist (Appendix A) which the Programs technical staff can complete for each loan application.
Make the Right Connections, a booklet prepared by the Safe Shelter Initiative (SSI) of Dominica (Appendix I) provides a more detailed review of safe construction techniques promoted under the CDMP. The following is a summary of some of the most important points included in the booklet.
A critical component of the USAID/OAS/CHF initiative was the revolving retrofit loan fund, which was established and seeded by CHF. The fund provided low-income families an opportunity to improve and protect their homes from hurricane forces by providing access to small loans with monthly payments not exceeding 25% of monthly family income.
When establishing the loan ceiling and average, implementing agencies should take into account the financial profile of the families targeted by the program. For many countries, the necessary data for an accurate review of retrofitting costs may not become available until several houses have been completely retrofitted. After a review has been conducted, the initial loan ceiling may need to be adjusted in order to meet the actual construction and labor costs incurred. As a general rule, loans targeted at low-income families should average EC$3,000 and be no more than EC$6,000. Additional adjustments to the size of the loans may be necessary depending on the funding source and the local economic situation. In such cases, a combination of funding sources may be required to combine the beneficiaries home improvement needs with the programs hurricane safety objectives.
The lending model used in CDMP was adapted from CHFs successful home improvement credit methodology. The basic tenets of this methodology are as follows:
The revolving loan program has a dual function: (1) to help low-income families improve the condition and livability of their homes; and (2) to provide future institutional contributors with a track record of technical and financial viability. A long term objective of any loan program should be to capitalize the loan fund at the level needed to cover the programs operating and financial costs with the reflows and interest earned on the loans.
The repayment rate on all of the revolving loan programs based on CHFs credit methodology has historically been at 95%, or higher, despite the fact that loan recipients usually belong to low-income earning families--a target group traditionally considered "high risk" by the formal banking sector. In the early stages, CHFs experience in the Caribbean fits the historical pattern. In St. Lucia, 20 out of 22 project loans were being repaid on time after the first nine months of Program implementation--despite the economic hardship that followed the passage of Hurricane Luis and Marilyn over the Eastern Caribbean.B. Loan Conditions
The use of near-market interest rates for the loans is fundamental to the success of a hurricane resistant home improvement program. The effective rate must be low enough compete in the local market and attract a sufficient number of qualified borrowers within the target group of the loan program and yet high enough to generate the revenues needed to sustain the program. Further, near-market rate loans allow the borrower to build a credit history, which may open the doors to future home improvement loans with local commercial banks and credit unions.
In the case of the CDMP, loans were made by CHF in US dollars to the Lead Implementing Agency, which, in turn, on-lent to local beneficiaries in local currency. The highly stable Eastern Caribbean Dollar exchange rate minimized any loss in value due to currency fluctuations.
While the loans do not have to be fully collateralized, all loan applicants must have at least one co-signor with adequate income or collateral to support repayment of the loan should the borrower not be able to meet her/his obligations. The loan applicant and the co-signor must fully complete and sign the Loan Application Form. Other methods for improving loan recovery include: (1) accepting a bill of sale on goods or property owned by the beneficiary; (2) requiring a refundable cash deposit; and (3) requiring a repayment authorization to be drawn directly from the beneficiarys salary.
For marketing, local implementing agencies target those individuals who have the potential of fulfilling the programs loan requirements and whose homes need to be upgraded to be hurricane resistant. A suggested marketing plan includes the following:
The program should be promoted during all phases of the implementation in order to provide a gradual progress report to the general population. This method serves to successfully persuade residents on the importance of strengthening their homes as well as to demonstrate that the program is responsive to the needs of its targeted communities. A clear emphasis should be placed on the entire island making its homes safe and resistant to all but the most violent hurricanes.
The loan application process typically begins once the social marketing initiatives have generated a substantial number of prospective loan recipients. The Lead Implementing Agency is then develops loan approval procedure and criteria along with system of loan tracking.
The following tasks outline the recommended application process.
The construction monitoring process provides the borrower with technical advice during the construction phase of the project and provides the LIA with insurance that the funds are being used in their intended manner. The Project Officer or the Estimator must thoroughly review and report on the progress of the construction work using the Minimum Standards Guidelines (see Appendix G).
The following recommended tasks are performed by the LIA for construction monitoring:
Disbursements should never exceed 50% of the loan and should be made directly to the contractor and/or suppliers. By minimizing the disbursement amounts and making payments directly to the contractor and suppliers the LIA reduces the risk that borrowers will divert the funds for family emergencies etc, rather than home construction/retrofitting. Diverted loan funds have historically produced repayment difficulties and jeopardize the entire revolving loan portfolio.
At the time the loan agreement is signed, a repayment schedule is provided to the borrower. Repayment typically begins 30 days after loan has been disbursed. Repayment locations should be as convenient to the borrowers as is reasonably possible. For example, arrangements can be made for payments to be made at local commercial banks if their branch offices are more assessable than the LIA.
The following outlines the recommended steps the LIA should take for the collection of loan repayments:
In each country where a Home Improvement and Hurricane Resistance Program is implemented, the Lead Implementing Agency should coordinate outreach and awareness campaigns both at the community and national/governmental level.
As a basic strategy, the LIA should take advantage of existing community structures to publicize the program and its benefits. Among other tasks, the LIA should:
To ensure the proper dissemination of the programs message and to optimize the impact of community meetings, the LIA should seek to accomplish the following during these meetings:
The experience of the CDMP suggests that the first series of meetings, while critical to introducing the program to the community, should only be the first step in a coordinated outreach effort. Within two weeks of the last community-wide meeting, representatives from the LIA should contact directly any households that have expressed an interest in the Program. Upon verifying that interest, the LIA should proceed to schedule an estimation of the work to be performed.
From the inception of the program, the LIA should seek to involve relevant national organizations in planning, implementing and evaluating the results of a safer construction campaign. From both a political and a programmatic standpoint, the program will succeed only if it receives the support of the countrys national disaster apparatus and of key personnel in the relevant government ministries or departmentsincluding physical planners and housing officials.
The program should also seek the active involvement and expertise of architects, engineers and contractors specializing in disaster-resistant housing.
At the onset of the Program, the LIA should approach the countrys major financial institutions, including local and foreign banks, national insurance companies and pension fund administrators. These institutions are ideally suited to become the long term funding partners of the LIA once a track record for a cost efficient home improvements program will have been established.
The LIA should plan for the systematic dissemination of the programs message through radio, television and newspapers. The following are suggestions for implementing a successful national awareness campaign:
The critical message to transmit in all the public awareness efforts is that, never again should Caribbean peoples homes be vulnerable to serious hurricane damage. The existing construction techniques, technology and loan resources now make it possible for everyones home to be made secure.
It is very important to establish a simple and consistent system for monitoring progress and evaluating the impact of the program. The on-going process of monitoring performance (tasks, schedule, costs/budget, other resources) and evaluating the relevance and acceptability of program activities within the community enhances the ability of managers:
A monitoring and evaluation plan should be developed during the planning stage of the program so that resources can be allocated specifically to this effort and so that all stakeholders (implementing partners and community leaders) are on board before completing the program design phase. Begin by clearly stating what it is that you want to achieve (objective), then list the activities that have been chosen to contribute to attainment of this objective. For example, if your objective is the adoption of building practices that will reduce natural hazard vulnerability, the activities selected for the program might be:
Program partners (these might include a training group, a lending institution, a public awareness/promotion group, a community development organization, et al) are each responsible for establishing realistic program targets and indicators of achievement related to these program activities.
The final monitoring and evaluation plan should include the following:
- Community awareness
- Construction quality
- Loan arrears rate
- Number of persons trained who continue to use retrofitting techniques
- Outside resources leveraged
- Indirect impact (e.g., number of retrofits performed without program funds)
- Effective rate of vulnerability reduction, when possible (e.g., how many program houses, as a percentage, withstood hurricane-force winds compared to non-program houses)
- Unanticipated results
Include in the plan a clear statement of who is responsible for collecting and reporting what information, and a schedule for periodic reviews and evaluations. The mechanism for adjusting the program as a result of these reviews and evaluations should also be outlined in the M & E plan.
Periodically review the monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that it is providing reliable and timely information. If the system is not responsive to the needs of the implementing partners and other stakeholders, or if the information collected is not being used to improve decision-making, make changes, where necessary, to meet the objectives of the monitoring and evaluation plan.
If possible, arrange for local and national participants to continue providing periodic reports on continuation of efforts, spin-off activities, investment attracted, and other impact-related information that will create a true picture of the real value of this program over time. Particularly with regard to training or capacity-building activities, their effectiveness may not be easily discerned in the short-term, but these activities may produce a positive benefit stream for the target population over years far beyond the program period
In each country where the program is implemented, a cadre of builders, artisans, craftsmen and construction worker should be trained to assist in hurricane resistant construction/retrofitting techniques. In St. Lucia and in Dominica, for example CDMP training has been primarily provided by SSI and by SALCC.
While the duration of courses has varied from two days to a week, each course should include both classroom-type sessions on the theory/techniques plus practical sessions on actual hurricane resistant construction/retrofitting--preferably completing the retrofit of an existing house. Such a course is also recommended or housing loan program officers and estimators.
A training video was developed by SALCC and is available to interested parties. LIAs should also seek opportunities to provide community residents with periodic training on a step-by-step approach to self-help retrofitting for hurricane resistance.
Appendices A through H are sample forms developed during the pilot phase of the CDMP
Safer Roof Program. The forms are provided for use by LIAs launching or expanding a Home
Improvement and Hurricane Resistance Program. Users should feel free to adapt these forms
to accommodate specific local needs and organizational identification.
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Page Last Updated: 20 April 2001